For the past several years, Stacy Szymaszek has been at work on a number of poetic journals that are now being published. The first, hart island (Nightboat Books), arrived in May 2015, followed by the chapbook Journal Started in August (Projective Industries). Journal of Ugly Sites & Other Journals (Fence Books) is forthcoming in January 2016, and A Year from Today (Nightboat Books) in 2017. All different in scope and attention, this remarkable series is underpinned by Szymaszek’s seemingly boundless wit and attunement—she is that writer on whom nothing is lost. We corresponded via email while texting enough asides to make a whole other interview.
Matt Longabucco: Lately a few sources pointed me towards the lecture series by Roland Barthes published as The Neutral, and it’s been fitting to read it alongside your journals. This concept of “the neutral” has many resonances for Barthes, one of which, as I understand it, is that pleasure is often to be found neither in the site nor the form where we’ve been led to believe we should seek it. For Barthes, rather, pleasure is nuance, the small but thrilling variation, an unexpected ripple in the text of the world—“blue appetite and smoky/quartz the combo who knows/is just pleasing to clack/in my fist.” And true pleasure is the thing that by its nature defies the categories we’ve erected in order to capture and tame it. I’m mesmerized by this idea, and think my sense of what’s worthwhile as a reader and as a writer involves leaping again and again into this gap between the ostensibly recognized pleasure and the actual, almost always unarticulated one. If I said I thought a similar investigation was part of the project of your journals, would that claim give you pleasure?